Overwatch 2 Has Screwed Up Its Launch, But I’m Going to Play the Hell Out Of It Anyway
After being announced in 2019 with a cinematic trailer that promised the world, Overwatch 2 is almost here. But if you’ve been keeping up with the game’s development cycle you’ll know that what we’re getting is decidedly less than what was promised.
For starters, the all-new PvE mode that Blizzard confirmed early on has now been delayed and there’s no word yet on when it’s coming. Besides that, Blizzard has surprised players by making changes to the Overwatch experience — some of which have been good, like getting rid of loot boxes in favour of a seasonal battle pass, and some of which have been much, much worse. For instance, a lot of content is now locked off for new players until they’ve played a certain number of games. (Blizzard confirmed it will take 100 matches to unlock all of the original heroes)
It’s almost tiring to count the ways Blizzard has bungled the Overwatch 2 launch, but I know none of that actually matters to me.
I’m not talking about Blizzard’s ethics or whether gamers have a responsibility to call out behaviour like this from publishers — certainly there are conversations to be had around that. I’m simply outing myself as a basic Overwatch bitch who knows that she, despite her better judgement, will play Overwatch 2 relentlessly for the next one to five years.
As a graduate of the Team Fortress 2 era of team-based shooters, I love Overwatch for being unapologetically bombastic. At least Blizzard seems to be self-aware about the game’s appeal — the developers recently rolled back changes to the healer Moira because they “had the side effect of decreasing the amount of ‘cool stuff happening’ in moment-to-moment gameplay”.
Right now, it’s been over a year since I’ve played Overwatch. I’ve moved onto Valorant, which couldn’t be more different. Overwatch is hectic; Valorant is tactical. Heroes in Overwatch can spam their abilities as soon as they reset; in Valorant, you have to buy your abilities at the start of each round and budget them out throughout a round.
Jumping into the Overwatch 2 beta after playing Valorant was shocking. I was so used to planning every move with my team, and now here was a game that simply let us loose. Obviously, there are still high-end strategies involved in Overwatch, but no one was concerned about that during my time in the beta.
But it also felt like coming home. I immediately remembered how to play. My fingers flew across the keyboard as if by instinct. The old hunger to get Play of the Game was back. For better or worse, Overwatch had its hooks in me again and I wasn’t even a little bit upset about it.
Most of the criticism about the Overwatch 2 launch can be narrowed down to the fact that Blizzard has treated it more like a major update than a sequel. Overwatch 2 promised new heroes, maps and gameplay, but they’ve been drip fed in betas that take place in the first game. If you participated in any of the these betas, you might feel like you’ve already experienced everything “new” in the sequel.
When Overwatch 2 was first announced, players were so excited. Now, a lot of that has fizzled out and been replaced by cynicism — but then again, that happens all the time for new games and it’s hardly a criticism of Overwatch specifically. There are certainly ways Blizzard could have maintained excitement for the Overwatch 2 launch. They could have withheld new characters, maps and modes until release. They could have delayed the game until the PvE mode was ready. They could have done a lot of things but here we are anyway, hungry little piggies squealing for a new game that might be past its prime but will always hold a special place in our hearts.
On the eve of the Overwatch 2 launch time, I doubt I’ll play it as much as I played the first game. But I’m excited for all of the same things: to queue with friends and lose ourselves in some chaotic, mindless, hyper-energetic fun. I won’t be thinking about what Blizzard could or should have done better. I’ll just be excited to return to a game that brings so much joy.
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